The Gambia For All (GFA) party would like to congratulate the party Leader and Secretary General Bakary Bunja Dabo, and fellow Gambian Plaintiffs on their recent victory in the supreme court of the Gambia’s decision that extends franchise to Gambians in the Diaspora. A landmark decision that for the first time, will enable Gambians living abroad to participate in the choosing of our leaders.
By their own released election timetable, the IEC should be busy with voter registration from January 14th through to February 26th 2021. A tight election schedule which anticipated the approval of the draft constitution by the National Assembly, to be followed by a referendum on the approved Draft Constitution on June 5th 2021. However, the spectacular failure of the National Assembly to approve the draft constitution, is matched only by the Machiavellian machinations of the Executive in seeing to it that the draft constitution is presented to the National Assembly with the tag “dead on arrival”.
One would have thought that the presidential election of 2016 and the impasse that followed will be a lesson for both the IEC and the country at large. The country was taken to the brink of chaos, and it was only the timely intervention of the international community under the leadership of ECOWAS that prevented a national catastrophe.
It is a little more than 4 years since the last presidential election was held, and barely less than a year to the next. In the meantime, the IEC has been busy registering new political parties, each paying a million Dalasis to do so, while nothing is being done to create the circumstances that will result in a free and fair election. New voter registration has been unilaterally suspended/postponed by the IEC and no indication given as to when it will start, if at all.
The registration of Gambians in the Diaspora, which the IEC is now required to undertake as per the Supreme Court’s decision in B.B Dabo et al vs the IEC and the Attorney General is now held in limbo. Even if by some miracle the IEC changes course and decides to start Diaspora voter registration, how long the exercise will take, given the experience of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) in their Diaspora consultation process.
Without any preparation, the IEC is committed to using the “paper balloting system” in the 2021 election series, while no effort is being made to improve on the much familiar marble voting system. Public sensitization and education on the new system has not started, and there is no indication that will happen. Is it incompetence, or a deliberate attempt to have a chaotic election process that will produce tainted election results which will damage our democratic credentials?
Given all of the above, and adding to the mix the failure of the authorities to address the electoral boundary issue, we are as it were, sleep walking into a scenario potentially worse than the impasse of 2016/17. The position of The Gambia For All party is very clear an unequivocal. The party expects, and will accept nothing less than a level playing field, resulting in a free, fair, and untainted election that reflects the genuine aspirations and will of The Gambian people.
Motto: TESITO, DESCIPLINE, AND JUSTICE.
GFA COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTORATE.